2019 iPhones Could Have Smaller Notch as Apple ‘Looking Into’ Combining Face ID and Front Camera

A new report from South Korea's ETNews insinuates that iPhones may have a smaller notch in 2019 or beyond.


The report, citing industry sources, claims Apple is "looking into" combining the front-facing camera and Face ID on next year's iPhones, a move that could certainly reduce the size of the TrueDepth sensor housing.
According to industries, it is heard that Apple is planning to strengthen face sensing function starting from 2019 models. That is why it is planning to increase number of parts that will be used for iPhones and is looking into combination of a face recognition module with a camera module.
The confusing bit is that the report mentions a singular face recognition module, whereas Face ID is powered by an infrared camera, dot projector, and flood illuminator. The report doesn't specify how Apple would manage to combine these components, so like many very-early-on rumors, this one isn't entirely clear yet.


The notch is easily the most controversial attribute of the iPhone X's design. While many early adopters don't mind the small cutout at the top of the display, others have heavily criticized it, including The Outline's Joshua Topolsky.
The "notch" on the new iPhone X is not just strange, interesting, or even odd — it is bad. It is bad design, and as a result, bad for the user experience. The justification for the notch (the new Face ID tech, which lets you unlock the device just by looking at it) could have easily been accomplished with no visual break in the display. Yet here is this awkward blind spot cradled by two blobs of actual screen space.
Unfortunately for those critics, it doesn't look like the smaller notch will arrive in 2018, as new iPhones and iPads set to launch later this year are expected to have the same TrueDepth sensor housing as the iPhone X.

Back in November, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Face ID will be featured on a second-generation 5.8-inch iPhone X, a larger 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus, and a new mid-range 6.1-inch iPhone. Apple will also release at least one iPad Pro model with Face ID this year, according to Bloomberg News.

LG Innotek will reportedly supply all or the majority of 3D sensing modules for the next-generation iPhone and iPad models, based on an $821 million investment, which may have been funded at least partially by Apple.

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LG Expected to Supply Face ID Technology on iPad Pro, iPhone X, and iPhone X Plus This Year

Apple is planning a significant investment in LG Innotek to secure supply of 3D sensing modules for next-generation iPhone and iPad models expected to launch this year, according to Korean website The Investor.

iPad Pro render by Benjamin Geskin and rough mockup of iPhone X and iPhone X Plus

The upfront payment could be worth as much as around $820.9 million, which LG Innotek would use to build additional facilities for production of 3D sensing and camera modules for smartphones, the report claims.

The 3D sensing modules assembled by LG Innotek, including the flood illuminator and dot projector, are key components of the iPhone X's new TrueDepth camera system, enabling features such as Face ID and Animoji.

The investment would make sense given Apple plans to launch a refreshed iPhone X, a larger iPhone X Plus, and a mid-range iPhone each with Face ID later this year, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Apple will also release at least one iPad Pro model with Face ID this year, according to Mark Gurman at Bloomberg News.

The investment could help Apple avoid the temporary supply chain issues it experienced with 3D sensing modules late last year, ensuring availability of the iPhone X, iPhone X Plus, and new iPad Pro is more plentiful.

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Apple’s Upgraded TrueDepth Camera System in Future iPhones Will Necessitate Larger Batteries

iPhone models released in 2019 and later will likely feature an upgraded TrueDepth camera system that will consume more power, resulting in a need for larger-capacity batteries, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


In a research note obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said Apple has technologies at its disposal to develop larger-capacity batteries.
Apple capable of designing new system for large-capacity batteries: We believe the adoption of TrueDepth camera for 3D sensing in 2017-18 will create demand for larger-capacity batteries. From 2019, we predict iPhone may adopt upgraded 3D-sensing and AR-related functions, and it will consume more power, further increasing demand for large-capacity batteries. We believe Apple's key technologies, including semiconductor manufacturing processes, system-in-package (SIP), and substrate-like PCB (SLP), will create the required space for larger batteries.
Kuo unsurprisingly expects Apple will use these technologies to continue increasing iPhone battery capacities in 2019 and 2020, as it routinely does, which should result in even longer battery life for future models.

Kuo reiterated that TrueDepth will be expanded to a trio of iPhone models next year, including a new 5.8-inch iPhone X, a larger 6.5-inch model we're calling iPhone X Plus, and a new 6.1-inch mid-range model with an LCD display, but it sounds like the camera system will remain unchanged in 2018.

As far as next year is concerned, Kuo previously said the second-generation iPhone X could have a one-cell L-shaped battery that would provide up to 10 percent additional capacity compared to the two-cell battery in the current iPhone X, which of course could result in slightly longer battery life.

He added that next year's so-called "iPhone X Plus" is likely to retain a two-cell battery design, but the larger size of the 6.5-inch device will still allow it to have a higher capacity in the range of 3,300 to 3,400 mAh.

Apple is expected to release the new iPhone X and iPhone X Plus in its usual timeframe of September to October next year.

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Rainbrow: New Eyebrow-Controlled Game for iPhone X Takes Advantage of TrueDepth Camera System

Washington University computer science graduate Nathan Gitter has released Rainbrow, an eyebrow-controlled arcade game for iPhone X.

The simple game requires players to use their eyebrows to move an emoji face up and down the screen to collect stars, worth one point each, while avoiding other emoji obstacles such as cars, basketballs, and ducks.


Simply raise your eyebrows to move the emoji up, frown to move the emoji down, or make a neutral expression and the emoji stays still. Note that if you raise your eyebrows, and keep them raised, the emoji will continue to move in an upwards direction, and vice verse when maintaining a frowning expression.

While there are no levels, the game gets increasingly difficult as more obstacles appear. The goal is simply to get the highest score possible, but players can only compete against themselves right now. Gitter told us that he plans to integrate Apple's Game Center for multiplayer competition in a future update.


Rainbrow is a novel concept since it's an early example of a game using ARKit, an iOS 11 framework that can detect the position, topology, and expression of a user's face in real time using the iPhone X's new TrueDepth camera system.

Gitter told us he believes there is a lot of future potential for face-based apps, especially for those that improve accessibility. He pointed us to another face-controlled game that was released earlier this week, Nose Zone, which tasks players with destroying targets by pointing at them with their nose.

Upon first opening Rainbrow, a prompt asks for permission to access the front-facing camera. As with any app, this permission can be toggled on or off at a later time in the Settings app under Privacy > Camera.


Rainbrow's privacy policy, which all apps with face tracking are required to have, says that depth data is collected only for gameplay purposes, only stored on the device locally, and only for the duration of a game session. The policy adds that depth data is never stored remotely, given to third parties, or used for any non-gameplay purposes.

Rainbrow is free to download on the App Store for iPhone X. Gitter told us he may add an optional in-app purchase to unlock new emoji characters in the future, but he does not plan on implementing ads into the game.

Gitter works at mobile app studio SwiftKick Mobile in Austin, Texas. His personal website says he's available for iOS design and development work.

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Apple Reportedly Working on 3D Sensor System for Rear Camera in 2019 iPhones

Apple is developing 3D depth sensing technology for the rear-facing cameras in its 2019 iPhones, according to a new report by Bloomberg on Tuesday. The 3D sensor system will be different to the one found in the iPhone X's front-facing camera, and is said to be the next big step in turning the smartphone into a leading augmented reality device.

Apple is evaluating a different technology from the one it currently uses in the TrueDepth sensor system on the front of the iPhone X, the people said. The existing system relies on a structured-light technique that projects a pattern of 30,000 laser dots onto a user's face and measures the distortion to generate an accurate 3D image for authentication. The planned rear-facing sensor would instead use a time-of-flight approach that calculates the time it takes for a laser to bounce off surrounding objects to create a three-dimensional picture of the environment.
The existing TrueDepth camera would continue to be used in the front-facing camera of future iPhones in order to power Face ID, while the new system would bring the more advanced "time-of-flight" 3D sensing capability to the rear camera, according to the sources cited. Discussions with manufacturers are reportedly already underway, and include Infineon, Sony, STMicroelectronics, and Panasonic. Testing is said to be still in the early stages, and could end up not being used in the phones at all.

With the release of iOS 11, Apple introduced the ARKit software framework that allows iPhone developers to build augmented reality experiences into their apps. The addition of a rear-facing 3D sensor could theoretically increase the ability for virtual objects to interact with environments and enhance the illusion of solidity.

Apple was reportedly beset with production problems when making the sensor in the iPhone X's front-facing camera, because the components used in the sensor array have to be assembled with a very high degree of accuracy. According to Bloomberg, while the time-of-flight technology uses a more advanced image sensor than the existing one in the iPhone X, it does not require the same level of precision during assembly. That fact alone could make a rear-facing 3D sensor easier to produce at high volume.

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Ming-Chi Kuo Says iPhone X’s TrueDepth Production Issues Stabilizing, Won’t Affect Next Year’s Models

While the iPhone X has reportedly faced production issues related to the TrueDepth camera, resulting in shipment delays, respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said supply of components for the facial recognition system is now stable.


In a research note with KGI Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo added that Apple wont "repeat the mistake" of delayed production with next year's iPhone models, which he predicts will "arrive on time" under "stable supply."
Apple won't repeat the mistake of supply disruption & delayed production as seen with iPhone X. We believe shipments of new 2H18F iPhones will arrive on time under stable supply in late 3Q18F. And given no major spec upgrade of TrueDepth camera on these new models, we believe Apple will continue to use the same WLO for dot projector and 4P lens of infrared camera as iPhone X. We believe the supply of both components are now stable, leaving no need to switch to other solutions.
Kuo expects new iPhone models launching in the second half of 2018 to adopt the same wafer level optics for the TrueDepth system's dot projector, and the same 4P lens for the infrared camera, as the iPhone X.

iPhone X pre-orders began on Friday at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, and shipping estimates have remained at 5-6 weeks since a few hours after that time.

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iPhone X Supply Revised Lower Yet Again as TrueDepth System Still Faces Production Issues

A new report today yet again suggests that customers looking to get an iPhone X this year might face quite the challenge.


Jeff Pu, an analyst with Taipei-based Yuanta Investment Consulting, has cut his forecast of the number of iPhone X devices that will be produced this year from 40 million units to 36 million. It's the second time he has revised down his estimate, which originally totaled 45 million earlier this year.

The underlying reason is that Apple's suppliers are still struggling to perfect manufacturing of the iPhone X's TrueDepth camera and 3D facial recognition system, according to Japan's Nikkei Asian Review. We first heard about the production issues from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo a few weeks ago.

Multiple reports have claimed it has taken more time to assemble the TrueDepth system's so-called "Romeo" module than the "Juliet" module.

The "Romeo" module reportedly includes the dot projector that beams more than 30,000 invisible dots to create a precise depth map of your face, while the "Juliet" module includes the infrared camera that analyzes the pattern. Together, they help power new iPhone X features such as Face ID and Animoji.

Pu maintained his belief that the iPhone X will enter mass production in mid-October and begin to be shipped from China to the first wave of launch countries next week. iPhone X pre-orders begin Friday, October 27, just over two weeks from now. The device officially launches Friday, November 3.

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Himax Begins Shipping Wafer-Level Optics Technology for iPhone X’s Face ID

Fabless semiconductor company Himax Technologies has begun shipments of chips based on wafer-level optics (WLO) technology to Apple, according to industry sources (via DigiTimes). The solution is reportedly a key component of the Face ID facial authentication sensor exclusive to the upcoming iPhone X.

ChipMOS Technologies will also see revenues generated from orders for WLO chips increase substantially later in 2017 as the backend house has cut into the supply chain for the iPhone X by partnering with Himax, said the sources. ChipMOS' revenues from orders for WLO chips are expected to reach between NT$50 million (US$1.66 million) and NT$60 million, up from the current NT$20-30 million, the sources indicated.
Apart from Apple's demand for the WLO chips, HiMax and its backend partner ChipMOS are gearing up for a busy 2018, with Android phone makers expected to follow Apple's lead by bringing facial recognition features to their own devices.

According to a recent research note by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple has tilted interest in the mobile industry away from under-display fingerprint recognition, and instead towards camera-based 3D sensing technologies as the ideal user authentication solution. Kuo believes the next two to three years will see shipments of 3D sensor-equipped Android devices to exceed those with under-display fingerprint recognition by a factor of two or three or more.

In line with Kuo's analysis, industry sources claim Qualcomm's recently announced 3D depth-sensing solution, jointly developed with Himax, is directly targeted at orders from the Android camp, with solutions from Orbbec and Mantis Vision also jostling to business. Himax and ChipMOS declined to comment on specific customers and orders.

In related news, supply chain sources speculate that Apple may delay iPhone X shipments otherwise the supply of the device could be limited this year due to yield problems with key components for new features that require 3D sensing modules. Apple is allegedly waiting to see how many iPhone X pre-orders it receives, and monitoring how well the already-released iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus sell, before fully ramping up production overseas.

A report last month claimed Apple's suppliers are shipping only about 40 percent of the components originally planned for initial production of the iPhone X, with Kuo subsequently claiming the 3D sensing components used in the TrueDepth camera, which represents a far more complex structure than those of rivals, may be the main production bottleneck.

Kuo said shipments of iPhone X components will likely ramp up in mid to late October. Given pre-orders begin October 27, with in-store availability starting November 3, all signs point towards the iPhone X being in extremely short supply.

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Apple’s Face ID Turns Android Makers Away From Under-Screen Fingerprint Recognition

With its iPhone X debut and the introduction of Face ID, Apple has now tilted interest in the mobile industry away from under-display fingerprint recognition towards camera-based 3D sensing technologies as the ideal user authentication solution. That's according to the latest research note from respected KGI securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

According to the new note seen by MacRumors, inquiries by Android smartphone vendors into 3D-sensing technologies have at least tripled since Apple unveiled its TrueDepth camera and Face ID technology, which replaces traditional Touch ID fingerprint recognition in the iPhone X, set to launch in November.

While under-display optical fingerprint recognition is only a spec upgrade from capacitive solutions, 3D sensing embodies a revolutionary user experience and warrants a premium on gross margin. 3D sensing not only enables facial recognition in security applications and allows users to create fun expressions like Apple's Animoji, on a more important level, it is a key factor in the development of AR. We therefore believe brand vendors are willing to spend more for related components.
Currently, the solutions available to Android phone vendors are said to be from Qualcomm and Himax, Orbbec, and Mantis Vision, with the more mature Qualcomm-Himax solutions attracting the most attention.

Kuo went on to say he believes the next two to three years will see shipments of 3D sensor-equipped Android devices to exceed those with under-display fingerprint recognition by a factor of two or three or more. This will be mainly due to 3D-sensing's wider compatibility with LCD screens than under-display optical fingerprint recognition, which is exclusive to OLED panels, said Kuo.

The KGI analyst also believes Samsung's continual dominance of the high-end OLED panel market over the next two to three years will mean shipments of under-display optical fingerprint recognition will remain significantly capped.

Regular MacRumors readers may recall that some reports claimed Apple struggled to implement under-display fingerprint recognition for its most advanced iPhone to date and instead opted for facial recognition as the exclusive authentication method as a result. In retrospect however, Kuo accurately contradicted that report shortly after it appeared, while well-connected Apple journalist John Gruber has also cast doubt on the assertion that Touch ID had been planned for iPhone X, claiming Apple had been "all-in" on replacing Touch ID with Face ID for over a year.

In an earlier report, Kuo said he believes it will take Apple's Android competitors up to two and a half years to replicate the functionality and user experience of the TrueDepth Camera in the iPhone X. He has also previously said that should Apple's TrueDepth camera prove to be popular with consumers, all of the company's future iPhones are likely to adopt the feature.

Face ID will become available to the public starting on November 3, the official launch date for the iPhone X.

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TrueDepth Camera System is Primary Reason for Slow iPhone X Production

Following a report claiming Apple's suppliers are shipping only about 40 percent of the components originally planned for initial production of the iPhone X, a new report suggests the TrueDepth camera is the primary bottleneck.


The word comes from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said the facial recognition system is "far more complex" than those on competing devices, which is making it challenging for Apple to achieve mass production.

An excerpt from Kuo's research note obtained by MacRumors:
TrueDepth camera may be main production bottleneck of iPhone X ramp. The 3D sensing (TrueDepth camera) on iPhone X is composed of a structured-light system, time-of-flight system and a front-facing camera, which represents a far more complex structure than those of rivals. It will therefore be harder to achieve mass production. While we project iPhone X will see output ramp up meaningfully in mid/ late October, tight supply may only start to ease in 1H18F due to strong demand.
Kuo said shipments of iPhone X components will likely ramp up in mid to late October. Given pre-orders begin October 27, with in-store availability starting November 3, all signs point towards the iPhone X being in extremely short supply.

Kuo believes iPhone X pre-orders have the potential to exceed 40-50 million units, so it's clear the device won't achieve supply-chain balance for quite awhile.

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Tags: KGI Securities, Ming-Chi Kuo, TrueDepth

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